A bill to increase access to cancer testing
ALBANY, NY (Erie News Now)-- In 2017, Charlotte Carlin at the age of 4 was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Charlotte, a survivor, is now in 5th grade. She traveled to Albany Wednesday with her mom to advocate for legislation that would increase access for biomarker testing--a lab test that can provide more information about cancer and needed treatments.
“I think it is important because it can change and save lives for people who need it,” Charlotte said.
Charlotte's mom Mary Carlin said they were fortunate not to struggle with insurance covering what they needed.
But many patients do.
Dr. Larry Norton, Oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, said he had a breast cancer patient recently who needed a biomarker test to determine a specific cancer treatment but her insurance wouldn't cover it. Out of pocket, the cost would have been $1800.
“It's really tragic that she was put in that situation. Many people can’t afford it at all,” Norton said.
This legislation would require health insurance policies and Medicaid to cover biomarker cancer testing for diagnosis, treatment, appropriate management or ongoing monitoring.
Some health plan associations expressed concerns.
“The language of this bill is just too broad to ensure that all the biomarker testing that people might have access to would fit into that evidence based best practices,” said Leslie Moran, Senior Vice President of New York Health Plan Association.
Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D-19th Senate District), said they made amendments to the bill that intend to tighten the language to include authorized biomarker testing.
“We’re looking to improve treatment of cancer and making sure we have targeted treatments and in the long run it will save money,” Persaud said.